Sunday, February 7, 2016
Lug Sail Melonseed
As promised, a short dissertation on the balanced lug mainsail rig is today's fare. When I designed this style of traditional rig for my faering, Saga, I'd never used one. The superlative sailmaker, Lynn Fabricant built that wing with her subtle magic and the little faering fairly flew.
It was an easy sail to set up and use. The balanced lug rigging I use is helpfully documented by Mik Storer in his rigging suggestions for the famous Goat Island skiff, a link well worth exploring for many reasons.
He says this simple and effective rigging comes from an old book, "The Dixon Kemp Manual of Seamanship". The only difference for me is that I don't lash the boom to the mast. I find the downhaul keeps the sail tensioned perfectly whether the boom rests against the mast or not.
With this set-up, I can strike the rig, bundle yard, sail and boom along the thwarts and be ready to row in a couple minutes. In Saga, I even have a long bag to contain the whole mess so it's ready to set anytime.
Doryman Melonseed has been used occasionally as a row boat, for which it is particularly suited, but the sail rig has hung in suspension. Last winter I sewed the spritsail but as you all know, several other unexpected emergencies interrupted my plans. Meanwhile, in the intervening months, I did have a few educational escapades with another spritsail. Not a sail for open water in my opinion.
There, I said it.
A difficulty yet to be addressed is the geometry of how the new lug lowers the sail on the mast. I do not intend to carve a new mast, but the sail needs to clear the deck by an additional 4-6 inches. Obviously there will be no room for the required downhaul on the tack, but with the extra long yard, the opportunity to tension the head of the sail with a downhaul on the forward end of yard itself is apparent.
Note how lacing the halyard from the forward end of the yard, through a block midway on the yard and thus through a sheave at masthead tensions and binds the yard against the mast. You will notice the halyard leads to the cockpit from the base of the mast (above).
Both the downhaul and the halyard are then lead through the coaming, to cleats in reach of the helmsman. This sail configuration can be set and struck from the safety of the cockpit, the solution to my concern about the sprit rig, which is a bear to strike in any kind of real wind.
This series of shots show how easy it is to lower the yard into the boat and the halyard lacing option used allows the whole kit to be stowed on the thwarts in seconds, allowing the mariner to concentrate on other matters when necessary. Thus stowed, the sail is also ready to set at a moment's notice. When it's time to stow this rig, the yard, sail, halyard and downhaul stay together in a handy bundle. The mast is bare and easy to handle.
For now, this rig has no boom. There is no particular reason for that other than expediency. This will hamper off-wind and downwind performance, though how much remains to be seen. A test sail is in the offing.
In a small boat, simple is best. I would add, this principle applies to larger boats (and life in general), but that's a topic for another day...